Different Types of Pilot Careers

Pilot Careers

Have you been thinking about starting a rewarding career as a professional pilot? With the growing worldwide pilot shortage, choosing a pilot career is smarter than ever.

There is an old saying: “If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life.” How would you feel if your office or work place was located in the cockpit of an airplane, turbo prop, small jet, airline jumbo jet, or any other type of aircraft while being thousands of feet up in the air? That is the ultimate feeling of flying and freedom.

If you have ever wanted to learn to fly and become a professional pilot, now may be the perfect time to do so. There is a substantial need for many different types of certified professional pilots, from commercial airline pilots to more unusual pilot careers.

If you are interested in earning a pilot certificate, there are a few questions you need to be asking yourself:

  1. Do you know what type of pilot you would like to be?
  2. Do you know about the type of pilot license you will need for your particular pilot career path?
  3. Have you ever researched the many different types of pilot jobs and pilot careers that are currently available for FAA certified pilots?

We created this brief list on some of the more popular and well known pilot career options that are available for certified pilots.

Pilot Career Options

  1. Major Airlines – Become a commercial airline transport pilot and fly all over the world for major airlines. There are more than 5,000 airlines worldwide, and with pilots retiring in record numbers, this remains the number one career for pilots.
  2. Regional Airlines – Become a domestic commercial airline pilot for a regional airline carrier. Many pilots prefer this, because it requires fewer overnight trips and keeps them closer to home.
  3. Corporate and Business Aviation – This type of commercial pilot usually gets to fly smaller, high-end, corporate jets and turboprops for corporations, businesses, and even for the rich and famous.
  4. Cargo Pilot – A cargo pilot delivers parcels and packages for small and large cargo companies such as FedEx and UPS. 
  5. Charter pilots and Air Taxi – A charter pilot is basically a pilot that flies people to specific destinations, hence the name ”Air Taxi.” You can operate your own private charter company or work for a large number of other charter airlines.
  6. Ferry Pilots and Aircraft Salesmen Pilots – This type of pilot delivers newly purchased aircraft to the new owner’s destination. With plane manufacturing at an all-time high, this is a growing area.
  7. Flight Instructor – Also known as a CFI, or certified flight instructor. This type of pilot career allows you to teach aspiring pilots, new pilots, and veteran pilots on the intricacies of flying. CFIs can teach at flight schools, operate as private instructors, teach at aviation colleges, teach at airlines, and much more.
  8. Medical and Air Ambulance Pilots – Also known as EMR pilots, these types of pilots fly for various medical situations. They fly for extreme emergency situations, life flight, organ deliveries, non-emergency patient transport, etc.
  9. Government Service Pilots – Government pilot careers allow a pilot to fly for the many different agencies for the federal government. Some examples of agencies that hire pilots – FAA, DEA, FBI, Homeland Security, Border Patrol, National Guard, Coast Guard, Transport, and more.
  10. Law Enforcement Pilots – Just about every arm of law enforcement employs pilots to fly helicopters, airplanes, and jets. Local, state, and federal pilot careers are available to those who qualify and can pass the rigorous background screening processes.
  11. Military Pilot – We already know what military pilots have to do as part of their job description, but keep in mind that not all military pilots are directly commissioned for combat. Military pilots get to fly the latest state-of-the-art aircraft, get paid to train, accumulate flight hours towards their civilian-rated pilot licenses, and get paid while on active duty upon completion of their advanced pilot training.
  12. Fire Fighting Pilot – Pilots can get paid to fly aircraft to put out fires. This type of pilot career is very dangerous, work is sporadic, and it takes extremely knowledgeable and experienced pilots to get the job done as safely as possible. Some pilots will work as fire fighting pilots along with having another job as a pilot, such as a CFI, private charter, or commercial pilot.
  13. Agricultural Pilots – Also known as an AG Pilot or crop duster, these pilots get paid to fly and release chemicals over farmland. These types of pilots are sometimes hired by local governments to assist with spraying chemicals for pest and weed control.
  14. Banner Towing Pilots – This type of pilot career can best be defined as “low and slow,” meaning you will be flying low to the ground and at slow speeds while towing advertisement banners.
  15. Media and Patrol Pilots – This type of pilot usually flies around reporting on traffic, police pursuits, aerial surveillance, news media, etc.
  16. Air Tour Pilots – This type of pilot career basically takes people on flights to tour different tourist sites, attractions, and other popular destinations.
  17. Airshow Stunt Pilots – Definitely one of the more riskier pilot careers, this type of pilot performs aerial acrobatics for large crowds at events and venues, performs in competitions, and sometimes this classification of pilot also competes in aerial races.
  18. Contract Pilots – You can start your own pilot business and work freelance on a per contract basis. This means you will have to go out and find opportunities to bid on. Businesses, corporations, and governments all have a need for private contract pilots.
  19. Test Pilots – That’s right, you can be a “crash test dummy” of the skies. This type of pilot career covers a lot of different sectors as you could be testing aircraft for aircraft manufacturers, private businesses, the military, federal government, and other aviation related businesses that may need test pilots.
  20. Astronauts and Space Pilots – With recent aviation and aerospace technological breakthroughs, there will be a growing need for space-trained pilots in the next several years that are qualified to take commercialized commuter flights into outer space with civilian and non-civilian passengers on board.
  21. Drone pilots – A drone pilot is the newest type of pilot career on the horizon, and it is anyone’s guess how this field will expand. Currently, this field of unmanned aircraft is on the rise with regard to pay as new uses are being applied with everything from real estate (bird’s-eye views of properties) to law enforcement (searching for lost people in dangerous terrain) to tourism (looking inside an active volcano).

Which pilot careers grabbed your attention?

After reviewing just a few of the many types of pilot careers listed here, have any of them caught your eye? Once you have an idea on which type of pilot career path you would like to follow, your next steps will be to find out which type of pilot license or pilot certificate you will need in order to be able to work in your chosen pilot career. Perhaps you are already interested in working for a particular airline. Once you know what career path you want to follow, the only thing left to do is to pursue your training.


About Our Flight School

Epic Flight Academy is an FAA/EASA certified flight school located at the Jack Bolt Municipal Airport in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. We have trained more than 5,300 pilots from 80+ countries over the past 18 years of operating our international flight school and boast a 99% hiring rate for our graduates. We own a fleet of 30+ new Cessna state-of-the-art pilot training aircraft and employ 40+ full time certified flight instructors. Our stellar safety record and perfect location in sunny Florida are just a few more reasons why Epic Flight Academy has proven to be one of the top international pilot training schools worldwide where students come to learn to fly.

Contact Epic Flight Academy for more information on how you can fast track your pilot training and begin your new pilot career.